Fighter pilot turned author Mohammed Hanif on mining his homeland of Pakistan for humour

Fionnuala McHugh in the South China Morning Post:

On a Sunday night, exactly 22 weeks after the protests against an extradition bill had begun on June 9, prize-winning Pakistani journalist and novelist Mohammed Hanif checked into his room at Robert Black College, on the University of Hong Kong campus. Until then, the city’s social unrest had usually been confined to weekends; but, two days earlier, Chow Tsz-lok, a student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, had died in unexplain­ed circum­stances while police were dispersing a crowd with tear gas. The Monday morning after Hanif’s arrival, a traffic policeman shot a protester at 7.20am during disturbances in Sai Wan Ho. Matters escalated.

Hanif, who lives in Karachi, had been invited last year to give the 2019 PEN Hong Kong Literature & Human Rights lecture at HKU. PEN, which stood for Poets, Essayists, Novelists but now embraces all literary forms in its role as human-rights watchdog, planned for Hanif to take part in an evening with local writers titled “We Still Laugh: Humour as a Literary Relief Valve”. By lunchtime on his first day in Hong Kong, however, student outrage had been ignited, tear gas was seeping through Central and no one was laughing.

More here.

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